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Help, I think I’m in love with the entire ‘Bon Appetit’ test kitchen 

IMAGES VIA BON APPETIT AND Sam Liebeskind for Wild One
WORDS BY ELLA BAZZANI-HOCKLEY

Brb, moving to Manhattan.

What exactly is it about watching a group of strangers spend upwards of 30 minutes making recipes I know I’ll never attempt, with an exhaustive list of ingredients I’ve literally never heard of, on a continent far, far away, you ask? 

Well, there’s a strange intimacy in watching someone make something with their hands, and as creepy as that sounds, I’m sure there’s science in that claim somewhere. There’s also something mind-numbing about watching an unobtrusive, soothing process like cooking pasta, or perfect pastry-making, that’s akin to sitting watching your mum cook something you love. (Probably something Freudian-slash-scientific in that, too.) 

The Bon Appetit magazine, belonging to the Conde Nast conglomerate responsible for Vogue, Teen Vogue, Allure, GQ, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, to name a few, only circulates 10 print editions each year and essentially owes the vast majority of its success to its cult social media following. 

Almost all of its ‘hands and pans’ videos have upwards of a million views on YouTube, despite the fact that most of them go for well over 15 minutes, some even as long as 40. Complete with spin-off series, high-and-low brow renditions of classic and contemporary dishes, and the BA channel is a the ultimate ‘how-to’ for the home cook. There’s a reason it’s the fastest-growing  YouTube channel in the food category, with over 40 million monthly views.

The recipes are easy-to-follow and relevant – it’s food I actually want to eat. Bon Appetit’s test kitchen staff are all hip, young New Yorkers attempting to make Gourmet Krispy-Kreme Donuts, “gourmetising” Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, or reverse-engineering Gourmet Warheads. If you’ve got 32 minutes to spare, why wouldn’t you want to watch that? 

It’s fascinating and easy to follow, and, as one of the iconic chefs behind the series, Claire Saffitz has said, “I think there’s something about watching me go through a stressful process that’s stress-relieving for people.” It’s simple, genius, and dare I say, never been done before –such is the beauty of Bon Appetit

The more lingo I learn – think Molly’s Instagram-stories series, Lunch Al Desko and pointless half-an-hour-long videos like Every Way To Cook a Tomato I watch, the more I’m aware of how much I love this test kitchen. Bon Appetit is the home economics teacher I never had, teaching me all the important content that I never knew I needed. The basic things like how to fix kitchen mix-ups, how to sharpen a knife, or, literally, how to boil an egg. (I guess there’s a market out there for people who never learned?)

As is the case with being in love, I’m dying to spread it. I want everyone I know to experience the pure, unadulterated joy that BA gives me, starting with my mum (who is now hooked on Andy Baraghani’s pasta with chickpeas recipe, thank you very much), and I feel the need to hand-pick a selection of the best videos Bon Appetit has to offer, for all you FJ readers out there, like a YouTube sommelier.

If you’re a budding pastry chef, or if you’re just in the market for a straight-talking but good-humoured culinary-school graduate friend, may I recommend Claire Saffitz. A crowd favourite, Claire is the sweet-toothed recipe developer behind iconic uploads like Pastry Chef Attempts to Make Gourmet Ferrero Rocher and she’s also blessed us with a five-part Baking School series. 

If you’re a Birkenstock-wearer, infrequent T-shirt-washer, or aggressively jumping on the sourdough train as of late (judging you), Brad Leone’s ‘It’s Alive!’ should pique your interest. As the name would suggest, all of the 68 episodes-and-counting detail something a lil whacky. From how to make sourdough bread, how to brew your own kombucha, how to make your own yogurt, ginger beer, ricotta cheese or fish jerky, to the more exotic; making salt from scratch, hunting boars in Hawaii, going crabbing in Alaska, or making chocolate in Ecuador.

If you’re into tacos, calorific-mac-and-cheese, cae-sal (Bon Appetit-ian dialect for caesar salad), eating tablespoons of salt for breakfast, or wearing chic linen aprons, Molly Baz should be your go-to. She’s sassy, very, very salty (literally), and goes heavy on the comfort-food content, like cheesecake, packing as much fried chicken as possible into a sandwich, making all manner of different potato dishes and tasting everything on the menu at a New York Diner.

And if you’ve got a rustic-recipe shaped hole in your life, please let Carla Lalli Music fill it. Think blueberry pie, from-scratch puff pastry, pie crust, scones, meatball subs, plain ol’ banana bread, and, as of late, some seriously impressive at-home ‘pantry pasta’ (the BA term for that thing that we all make when we have nothing at home to make). 

As of late, the test kitchen has had to adapt – recipe-testing from home, taking us on tours around their at-home kitchens, showing us how they make their morning coffee – and needless to say, for me it’s been a welcome change seeing these people I feel like I’ve known for years in their natural habitat. Chris’ two children, Carla’s son Cosmo and Claire’s housebound cat have all (finally) been featured, and it’s this type of deeply comforting content that I hope I’ve well and truly made a case for. If you’re procrastinating or just feeling particularly peckish today, please get onto it. 

Bon Appetit’s online publication has the header, “You love to eat, now learn to cook”. The former couldn’t be more true, and the latter is suddenly much more exciting, thanks to Bon Appetit.

bonappetit.com

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